Museum of London to Be Demolished for New Office Space

May 28, 2024

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By 

Elle Yap

The Secretary of Housing and Communities for the United Kingdom decided not to intervene regarding the London Wall West project on Wednesday. The action sets the Museum of London’s demolition to make way for the project.

Michael Gove announced the decision on Friday, lifting the holding directive that put the project on temporary pause. This allows the City of London Corporation to start the process for the planning permissions necessary to start work on the new project. 

Incumbent Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove. Photo by George Gillams. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Incumbent Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove. Photo by George Gillams. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Gove originally issued an Article 31 Holding Direction on April 17 after the redevelopment project was approved by the City of London’s Planning Applications-Sub Committee. This prevented them from processing a demolition pass for the Museum of London and Bastion House. 

“The approval of the London Wall West proposals brings us closer to our goal of meeting demand for 1.2 million square [meters] of new office space by 2040, a figure backed by industry experts taking into account projected jobs growth and new working-from-home patterns,” a spokesperson for the City of London said. 

London Wall West

Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Sheppard Robson developed the current London Wall West project. They plan to create office buildings in the area to meet alleged future demand for work space in the area. 

The project includes a 17-story building called the New Bastion House, a 14-story Rotunda Building, and a yet-unnamed 5-story building. It will also include cultural and green spaces, plazas, and a roof garden that will be open to the public. 

The current Bastion House building, also set for demolition alongside the Museum of London. Photo by Matt Brown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The current Bastion House building, also set for demolition alongside the Museum of London. Photo by Matt Brown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The area earmarked for the project replaces both the Museum of London and the original Bastion House. Both built in the 1970s by post-war architecture firm Powell & Moya, the aim was to redevelop that portion of the city which was ravaged by bombings during World War II. It sits close to the performing arts theater, Barbican Centre.

Side view of the Museum of London entrance. Photo by Iolanda Ogando. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Side view of the Museum of London entrance. Photo by Iolanda Ogando. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

conservation group Twentieth Century Society calls the Museum of London the “largest urban history museum in the world” by . The building closed down in December 2022 to prepare for the demolition as the museum moves their collection out of the building.

Local Objections

The locals living in the area oppose the demolition of the Museum of London and Bastion House. Many set up campaigns for the halting of the demolition due to environmental and heritage reasons. 

Over 90% of the locals oppose the demolition and voted for an alternative back in 2022. The local government received over 965 objection letters opposing the new development. 

Both the incumbent Tory Member of Parliament Nickie Aiken and Rachel Blake, her Labour opponent for the seat, asked for Gove to intervene on the demolition orders. In a statement regarding the decision, Barbican Quarter Action, the campaign group seeking to preserve the building, said that other development options which could remove the need for demolition have been ignored. 

The front view of the Museum of London. Photo by Ethan Doyle White. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The front view of the Museum of London. Photo by Ethan Doyle White. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

“The London Wall West scheme is in breach of local, London, and national policy,” the group said. “The decision now enables the demolition of two significant post-war heritage assets and damage to many listed assets that will be dwarfed by the bloated and bulbous buildings being proposed.

The City of London Corporation, however, has held firm on the decision to demolish the two buildings.

“The City of London is a global economic powerhouse, and it is vital we continue to signal to investors that we are keeping it that way, by delivering a [center] of collaboration and innovation for the hundreds of thousands of people who work here,” the spokesperson said.

Related reading: For Whom the Bell Tolls: PH heritage landmarks left in ruins

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